A minister has denied that the chancellor’s message to “live without fear” during the pandemic was a suggestion people do not have to follow the coronavirus rules.
Asked about the comment in an interview on Sky News – and whether it was a message that Britons should ignore the coronavirus rules – chief secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay said: “Quite the opposite.
“I think what’s very clear from the message the chancellor said we need to address the health risks in order to protect jobs.
“It’s as a consequence of people following the health guidance, adhering to that, that’s also how we enable the economy to recover and we protect as many jobs as possible.
“This false choice that’s sometimes presented between the health needs and the economic needs is wrong.
“They both sit side by side and it’s through taking strong measures to address the virus that we can get the business confidence back into the economy.”
The headline announcement from the chancellor was a new Jobs Support Scheme, which will replace furlough when it ends next month.
This will see the government “directly support” the wages of people in “viable” jobs working at least a third of their normal hours.
The government will top up a third of the worker’s salary that would have otherwise been lost as a result of working reduced hours – capped at £697.92 a month – which means a third will go unpaid.
It will start in November and run for six months – with all small and medium-sized businesses eligible for the scheme.
Larger firms will have to prove their profits have been affected by the pandemic in order to utilise it.
The 15% VAT cut for hospitality and tourism – down to 5% – has also been extended until the end of March.
Mr Barclay said the government have been “honest with the public that we will not be able to save, regretfully, every job”.
“There’s a whole range of investment going into the economy in those sectors whilst we protect as many of those jobs that are viable, that people have been protected in initially through the furlough and now through the winter package.
“It is right that we also look at the cost to the wider economy, these measures come at a significant fiscal cost, and that’s why it’s right we target those jobs that are viable during what is going to be sadly a difficult winter.”